Swimming With the Sharks (for Lainey)
Swimming with the sharks, what an adventure,
when time comes to finally run a race;
a brief respite for those without a cure;
apples not oranges, footing not sure,
a time to redefine goal of first place.
A lesson in charades, for those static,
gladly given up. They know from the start,
all are not measured by the same yardstick;
will make sure today is less traumatic;
swimming with the sharks, worthy counterpart.
A moment to compete, not hide away,
on top of the world, season to define;
to enter in the game, come out and play;
daring to move, keeping the wolves at bay,
ground beneath, showing way to finish line.
When swimming with the sharks, choose to swim deep,
disregarding conventional rule sets.
There are arenas which welcome black sheep,
where the losers rejoice and victors weep.
Provided, this is a good as it gets.
Michael Todd (2017)
Disclaimer: The prompt for this poem was given to me by Lainey. I asked her for an idea. She responded with "swimming with the sharks." Not long after, I saw a video of several instances where people who were physically or mentally challenged, were taking part in athletic endeavors.
There was one where a basketball player got a rebound, and went the length of the court, and on the third try, hit a shot. Players from both teams gave him time and space. When that shot went in, players from both teams celebrated, along with the crowd. It was a magical moment in time.
There were several other defining moments in the video, but the one that got to me was when a player scored a goal in a soccer game, and immediately ran across the field, removed his team jersey, and gave it to a fan, confined to a wheel chair. I had great respect for that player. I have great respect for all of the individuals I saw in the video. I have tremendous respect for those who are impeded and cannot compete on an apples to apples level, but still give it their best.
And as for those who encourage them, I have no proper words to describe, other than to say, to me, they are the finest people, and worthy of acclaim, but odds are good, they don't want or need that.